30 November 2007

Tagged by Twisted DNA

So, way back when, when the world was young, and before my life changed literally into a travelling circus, the incredibly funny mr. twisted dna had tagged me to come up with a few of my favourite things...

finally after consuming some good scotch on the rocks, and upon not finding myself asleep as would normally be the case after such consumption, and not having the internet connection die on me every 12 seconds, I decided to tackle his tag.

I added a twist to the favourites tag... since I moved continents and all... I'm gonna talk about my favourite things that I missed when I was away from home... so here goes...

Mosi Lager - believe it or not my name comes from a beer from the Republic of Zambia... needless to say, I missed this a lot when I was in the States. Now that I'm back... I've only had 2 in about 3 weeks... but they were goooooooood... and before you think i'm an alcoholic... no way i'm an alcoholic, i'm just a scientist.

Switches - in Zambia... the switches to turn things on and off all go the proper, logical way. This is a huge relief because now I don't have to test... I can just look and see if something is on or off. The logical way is that you flip the switch down for ON and flip it up for OFF. Joy... immense joy ensues...

Driving - very happy to drive on the proper side of the road, i.e. the left side. Now people who have driven on the right all their lives may argue with me, but there is only one proper side of the road to drive and that is the left. This is because I am right handed... just like >80% of the world. My right hand is far better at controlling things than my left hand... kendo swords, pens, dumbbells, javelins, pool cues, steering wheels... you get the picture. So right hand steering, left hand gearbox. And don't start with automatic transmissions... I hate them. Manual is the way to go... otherwise just hire a robot to do the driving.

TV - When I first landed in the USA, every channel on TV was showing one thing - a white truck on some highway being chased by several cars. I came across CNN once and they were talking about some farmer and his pig in north carolina, usa as part of their world news. Somehow... didn't strike me as world news. If one solely watches US news... there are no countries called India or Zambia or even New Zealand... there are no sports called cricket or badminton... Now when I turn on the TV.. guess what... India Pakistan test match, UEFA championships, New Zealand - South Africa one-dayers and even rugby... cup... runneth... over... and if I feel melodramatic... B4U and Zee are just a remote click away for Indian songs / movies... laawaris... sharaabi... and some weird movie called kiss kis ko... bbc news... and the british media actually realises the existence of asia and africa. Even the history channel is better over here, watched a show about the history of the Russian navy for about 2 hours... they have a 300 year old history. History channel in the US is all about how great the US is... and innumerable and neverending footage of world war II.

Sports - I just have to walk outside to find a cricket game... and a football game... and did I mention it's summer... and it doesn't get above 33 degrees... ooooh celsius... and centimetres... units that make sense... .woohooo!!!!

TATA - did you know that TATA Africa has been making life easier for all South Africans? I didn't either... and probably never would have in the states.

Walking - I get to walk a lot here... you can actually go to 2 different shops in one trip by walking... and not having to jump in the car, drive 2 minutes across pedestrian inaccessible roads to get to the next store...

No killings - no kid goes to school and kills anybody else... doesn't happen. guns are fairly heavily restricted here so feel good about that.

OK so now what do I miss about the US?

Well... at this point... fast, always on internet... internet here is kinda slow and not around all the time and liable to do weird things... and i have access to one of the best in the country.

Rich - poor divide - not as obvious where I was in the US.. probably because I was one of the poorest... now it's the other way... and it's fairly in-your-face... so that feels bad.

Work - I only start work in Jan... on paper it looks good to have 6 weeks of vacation... but it's boring as hell if nobody else is vacationing with you. me wants to do some research... my curiosity is killing me... research, NOW!!!!

The Angel - The angel was this black Honda Prelude I used to have. Best car ever... it died about 3 years ago... still miss it. Haven't seen anything like that here... just corollas and more corollas :(

No walls around houses - Houses / apartments in Lusaka have big walls with razor wire / broken bottles / electric fences on top of them so nobody can climb over. So everything looks quite forbidding. I miss the security of the US... even though some people may call that security illusory.

Well, as always, if you want to take up this tag, please list a few of your favourite things... and no reference to the sound of music.

02 November 2007

Ph.D. student anthem

(Sing to the tune of... Rock Star by Nickelback, with due apologies to the band)

I'm through with standing in line
to the parking lots I'll never get in
It's like the bottom of the ninth
and I'm never gonna win
This life hasn't turned out
quite the way I want it to be

(tell me what you want)

I want a brand new project
with a PI who rocks
And a laboratory I can play baseball in
And a king size bench big enough
for ten plus me

(yeah,so what you need)

I'll need a, a HHMI grant that's got no limit
And a big huge office with a bedroom in it
Gonna never leave lab if
At all I can help it

(Been there done that)

I want new libraries full of old articles
And my own name in the Nobel Committee
Somewhere between Crick and
Amartya Sen is fine for me

(So how ya gonna do it?)

I'm gonna trade this research for a Ph.D.,
I'd even finish my manuscript to impress my committee,

[CHORUS]
'Cause we all just wanna be big postdocs
Live in our labs reading fifteen graphs
The grants come easy and the reagents come cheap
We'll all stay skinny cause we just won't sleep
And we'll hang out in the coolest labs
With the scientists who discovered Alzheimer's and SARS
Every good student's
Gonna wind up there
Every good project
will be in our lair
and well..
Hey hey I wanna be a postdoc
Hey hey I wanna be a postdoc

I wanna be great like Salk without the hassle
Order around eight techies who love to clone and dazzle
Attend a couple product seminars
So I can eat my meals for free

(I have a quesadilla... on the house)

I'm gonna dress my ass
In a nerdy fashion
Get a front door key to the BSL-4 mansion
Gonna date a lab computer that loves to
Run my simulations for me

(So how ya gonna do it?)

I'm gonna trade this research for a Ph.D.,
I'd even finish my manuscript to impress my committee,

'Cause we all just wanna be big postdocs
Live in our labs reading fifteen graphs
The grants come easy and the reagents come cheap
We'll all stay skinny cause we just won't sleep
And we'll hide out in the conference rooms
With the latest manuscripts
for today's review
We'll get you any collaborator
with that knowing smile
Everybody's got a
nobel winner on speed dial
well..
Hey hey I wanna be a postdoc

I'm gonna do the research
that disproves the naysayers
Gonna dispense my solutions
from high throughput pipeters
Get Beckman robots doing all my stuff
And the reviewers just can't get enough

'Cause we all just wanna be big postdocs
Live in our labs reading fifteen graphs
The grants come easy and the reagents come cheap
We'll all stay skinny cause we just won't sleep
And we'll hide out in the conference rooms
With the latest manuscripts
for today's review
We'll get you any collaborator
with that knowing smile
Everybody's got a
Nobel winner on speed dial
well..

Hey hey I wanna be a postdoc
Hey hey I wanna be a postdoc